Today’s retention strategies are rooted in drivers of employee engagement that give workers a voice, emphasize opportunities and respect differences.
Your people are restless.
The global pandemic has prompted them to rethink their place in the work world. And it’s time you rethought yours as well.
Even if you provide a vibrant workplace with high drivers of employee engagement, where everyone’s contributions are recognized and welcomed from all directions, you can’t ignore the facts:
- Almost 69 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
- At the end of 2021, the BLS reported there were 1.7 available jobs for each unemployed person
- According to the 2022 report from the BLS, 4.5 million U.S. workers quit their job in March
For your best shot at retaining people, today’s realities demand that your organization sharpen its employee engagement efforts to meet expectations for a more fulfilling and equitable workplace. Otherwise, you risk losing valuable people who offer exceptional talent, reinforce your brand promise and are expensive to replace—especially since labor market conditions are likely to remain challenging for the foreseeable future.
The 5 Drivers of Employee Engagement
The first step to meeting or even exceeding your employees’ expectations? Deep, honest, introspective reflection. Pointing the finger at the labor market might be easy but taking a hard look at the value you offer your employees is much more productive. What kind of workplace culture do you foster? How do your tangible benefits compare with other organizations? Have you actually created a place where employees can thrive and grow?
The importance of employee engagement boils down to the core of your talent retention efforts amid the Great Resignation: your employee value proposition (EVP). Beyond the salary, benefits and assorted workplace perks; a desirable EVP encompasses your culture, your unique spot in the marketplace, and the trust and value you place in every employee.
What do employees want in an EVP? Korn Ferry research has proven that these five specific traits have the biggest impact on employee retention.
1. A strong Strategic Compass
Employees want to play for a winner—an organization led by a trustworthy management team with a sound plan for the path forward. They’re looking for a purpose-driven strategy that clarifies their roles and leaders who have an inclusive process of refinement and improvement. They want to work with people who trust that the plan will succeed.
To boost employee confidence, consider your business’s purpose. What are you striving for beyond an improved bottom line? Weave your vision, mission and values into day-to-day activities, reflecting the employee’s core role in the company culture. Solicit feedback on progress and setbacks. Reflect on your success in the collective movement toward your central goals. Encourage extending your values-driven culture to stakeholders outside the company as well as the broader community.
2. Abundant Growth Opportunities
Providing ways for employees to achieve professional and personal growth reassures them that they can still grow if they stay with you. Make sure your employees are in their ideal roles, and then establish a clear line of sight to where they want to be next, including the training and support they’ll require.
If an employee can’t see their opportunities for growth, they’ll look elsewhere. To ease their uncertainty, actively inspire your people to target future roles. Help them understand what skills they need to advance and develop learning plans that link their personal success with the organization.
If you don’t have growth pathways in place, consider why. Honestly reflect on how those gaps affect your employee retention, then take action. Build tracks for growth, training and development that benefit both the organization and the people who keep it running.
3. A sense of Worth With Effective Rewards
For their contributions, employees want rewards that reflect their value to the organization. You have to assume they know what the market provides for their skills and expertise—not just financial packages but other incentives and flexibilities. To stand out, your rewards plan must consider employee preferences, and it needs to be direct, transparent and competitive to effectively offer a fair exchange.
Take a close look at what you currently offer your people. Is your compensation and benefits package compelling enough to attract and keep people with top-notch, specialized skills? You may need to broaden your benefits options to provide flexibility in tailoring compensation packages for new hires and existing employees.
4. A Measure of Employee Autonomy
Employees thrive when they have control over how they fulfill their responsibilities and deliver results for the company. The global pandemic revealed the benefits of working remotely, especially in organizations that have healthy communication practices and two-way accountability. Along with autonomy, your employees also value having a say in the organization’s success. They want to have confidence that you and others in leadership are listening.
Offer multiple ways for your people to share ideas and contribute while making sure that you and other leaders are prepared to listen and engage. And, when it’s feasible, consider giving employees the freedom to work wherever they work best.
5. A Supportive and Inclusive Community
A productive workplace that’s bolstered by a company-wide collaborative mindset fosters success. The biggest factor for this is respect and inclusion. Allow for and encourage differences of opinions, backgrounds, challenges and strengths. Those differences will help you build a better workplace, which you can regularly improve upon.
Dive into your demographic data within all areas and levels of the business. If you say you’re committed to inclusive hiring, find out if your organization truly reflects it. Challenge your leadership team to assemble a diverse workforce while creating structures—such as employee resource groups—that amplify their unique perspectives. And when you have a solid mix of people, make sure you’re implementing ideas generated from throughout the organization.
Valuing Your Employees is the Bottom Line
Beneath the headlines and statistics, the Great Resignation is ultimately a reflection on life priorities and a desire for purpose and fairness from a workforce that’s just gone through a tumultuous time.
To restore and strengthen your connection with your people—and to retain the deep and varied talents they possess—start with yourself. Consider not just what you want to offer your employees but what you’re actually giving them. Your drivers of employee engagement must actively demonstrate that your organization recognizes them, cares for them and respects them. And that starts with honest self-reflection.